I have a recurring New Years Resolution to see 2 new countries a year. Sure I want to see my host country, explore old favorites in detail, and take more day trips around my city. But I also want to remember why I love traveling and to challenge myself to start seeing new things rather than, I don’t know, just going to Berlin over and over.
This goal of see-2-new-countries-a-year is a recurring New Years Resolution. And how has it been going? Not well.
- 2016: Taiwan.
- 2017: Portugal
- 2018: Hungary.
2019: I was coming for you. My 2019 goal, for some reason, was see three new countries. Sure I had never actually met my goal of 2 new countries, yet I bumped the number even higher. Live big, right?
So here is our 2019 in review because we wanted to look at the highlights from our year and to see if we ever met my resolution.
We finished our trip in Budapest/Hungary. The highlights of this trip were mostly the Pinball Museum and the roast goose meal, but we saw amazing museums and enjoyed being cold (and seeing snow) for the first time in years.
We flew back home just in time for the Sant Antoni celebrations. This was a high point of the year as it was the first time we ever felt like we belonged in our community. Nothing like burning effigies, singing and drinking to bring people together.
Carnival happened, we had a stay-cation on the island where we walked from Porto Cristo to Arta. A grand total of 13 miles from home.
We saw some of the beautiful calas and went on one of our favorite hikes on the island.
March was spent teaching and hanging out around the house. The extent of any travel or adventure was to Palma, just 1 hour away to go to the shopping mall there.
We flew to Belfast (the UK – we have been there before) but then went down to the Republic of Ireland (First new country of the year! Country 1 of 3) for a whirlwind vacation touring around.
- We saw the Titanic Museum, and other fascinating things in Belfast
- Went hiking across The Causeway Coast Way
- Visited Londonderry/Derry to see the Derry Girls mural and get drunk there
- Saw Dublin and took a day trip to The Cliffs of Moher
- Finally just messed around in Howth and Skerries for fun
We went up to the nearby city of Capdepera to see their Medieval Festival.
We finally went swimming in the Mediterranean for the first time since we moved here (and the first time since 2012).
We attended a luncheon with my school on their last day of school. This was also nice to talk to teachers I’ve only ever seen in passing.
Then we went to the north of Spain to tour around Basque country. We saw:
Bakio and San Juan de Gaztelugatxeko. This last mouthful is the name of the hermitage famous from Game of Thrones (Dragonstone)
Bermeo and Bilbao, Bilbao is a large city famous for the Guggenheim and Bermeo was a cute little fishing town we enjoyed.
Durango, Spain. We were only interested because we’re from Durango, Colorado (one of a few Durangos spread around the world). We thought it would be hilarious to see the name on everything but actually had a really nice time and went on one of our all time favorite hikes.
We also hiked from Deba to Zumaia and saw San Sebastian
And finally walked to France from Spain because we seem to have a tradition of walking to France. We walked from Germany to France in 2012 just to say that we did. So obviously we needed to assault France on foot again -from the south this time. We walked from Hondarribia to Hendaye, France. We mostly enjoyed the grocery store then took a ferry back to Spain. France touches 6 total countries so maybe we will complete a circuit of walking-to-France-for-no-reason from all of their neighbors someday. A bucket-list item, perhaps.
We stayed inside, mostly planning and having long discussions to decide if we could stay in Spain or what we would do next (spoiler: Japan). This was honestly all we did. It was hours and hours of researching programs, teaching licenses, and/or graduate degrees.
Of course we had a big beer taste test and decided our favorite Spanish beers.
We also mostly did paperwork and “bureaucracy” to stay in Spain legally over the summer.
The two times we left our little town was when we went shopping in Palma, and when we went to the next village over (Petra) to do some good old fashioned exploration. We totally blogged about it but forgot to post it.
We didn’t leave the house hardly at all. The tourist season was in full swing. Between the tourists having sex in public (risky click if you’re in public) repeatedly and a German man trying to drown a police officer in the sea we decided we didn’t want to get mixed up in all that.
I planned our trip to Madrid in secret and we began hammering out details of Japan.
Here are pictures of our place since that’s where we were the whole time. We did go to IKEA once which was great and also had my birthday.
Back to the mainland for an adventure in the areas around Madrid. We flew to Madrid then went to Ávila, Segovia, Cercedilla, Toledo, and Alcalá de Henares.
Ávila was probably our favorite with the best preserved medieval walls in Europe.
Segovia was, of course, outstanding with the castle that inspired the Cinderella castle in Disneyland.
We originally went to Cercedilla to go hiking but the weather was terrible. We have honestly been so lucky this year with sunshiny days in Northern Spain and Ireland (places notorious for rain). So finally having a rainy day cancel plans was fine. Instead of hiking we saw the skiing museum there. Then went to Madrid properly. We’re not huge fans of big cities so we mostly went shopping and hung out.
Finally, we went to Toledo which was chock-full of museums but we went to the same museum twice because we enjoyed it so much.
We started school on October 1st and were accepted to the Japanese program around the same time. We made one of the biggest bureaucratic mistakes of our lives filling out form 790-052 instead of 790-012 (oh my god, who even does that!?) to extend our Spanish visa. So a trip to renew our visas led to a 4 hour ordeal chasing the 50 bucks we lost in the oredal (which was, in fact, refunded to us…in December. So we did it! Take that bureaucracy!).
November was spent getting into the swing of going back to school. We lost some private tutoring people but gained others so that was an adjustment as well. Chris has one on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday while I have only one on Thursday.
It was nice to get back to school and see my kids again. It has also fun to meet my 1st graders for the first time and see how the 5th graders adjust to being big bad 6th graders (not well).
Chris’s birthday coincided with the usual long weekend (Immaculate Conception and Constitution Day). In the past we’ve taken vacations during this time (once to Tarifa and once to Alcudia) but we spent this weekend playing video games and eating. I’m sure you can see from this year that we have a “when it rains it pours” travel style. We’re either intense homebodies or going on planes- “easy” day trips are not really our thing.
Yikes there are only 13 days left in the year and I’ve only seen 1/3 countries. But fear not. Just before Winter Break officially started we skipped school and flew to Vienna, Austria. Just like we did last year.
The end. It really goes to show how resolutions should only –
Just kidding we took a bus across the border to Slovakia (new country 2 of 3)
We will be blogging about this soon.
Bratislava was super fun, but with 9 days left in 2019 we hopped on a train down to Slovenia (country 3 of 3!).
We have so many wonderful things to say about Slovenia. Best country we’ve ever been to. But, again, we’ll be blogging about it soon.
And that was our 2019. In the end the new countries that we visited this year were Ireland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. K’s resolution was indeed fulfilled, and even surpassed.
In total we saw 9 total countries (new and old). Hungary, Spain, the UK, Ireland, France, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Italy.
Year in Review
A rough estimate has us believing we traveled 10,467 kilometers (6503 miles) this year. With an average of 2,093km per trip.
Flights: 8 (7,040km- 4,374 miles)
Distance Traveled by Trains: 2,448 km or 1,521 miles
Distance Traveled by Bus: 975 or 605 miles
Distance Traveled by Boat: 3 km (1.8 miles)
Top 3 Places Visited: Avila, Spain; Bratislava, Slovakia; Maribor, Slovenia
Top 3 hikes: Urkiola Natural Park Durango, Spain; Causeway Coast Way in Ireland-Portrush to Bushmills; Parc Natural de la Peninsula Llevant in Arta, Mallorca.
Top 3 foods: Goose from Hungary; steak menu in Avila, Kapustnica (Slovakian sauerkraut soup). Runner up: llengua (tongue) from Mallorca
Favorite Country: Slovenia
Top 3 adventures:
- Getting completely soaked hiking San Juan de Gaztelugatxeko I was soaked inside of the rain jacket I actually got stuck in it trying to take it off. Chris has an inappropriate picture of me trying to get out of it, arms stuck up in the air, soaked bra out for all the world to see. That picture didn’t go on this blog, obviously.
- Sant Antoni – we didn’t know what to expect and it’s one of the best parties/city events I’ve ever been to. We’re so excited to go this year.
- Screwing up our paperwork – it’s funny now but I shed some tears outside of the foreigners office at the time.
Top 3 most unexpected things
- How green and mountainy northern Spain is. Andalucia is very pretty but not very green. Mallorca is green but not lush. Northern Spain is almost prettier than Ireland and no one talks about this.
- How good Slovenian wine is. For a small country how do they do it?
- Japan. One minute we were planning teaching licenses or teaching in China, the next minute we were interviewing and being accepted for Japan. It happened fast.